Belfast Telegraph

Solskjaer lauds ‘excellent’ Man Utd display on Mourinho’s Old Trafford return

Rashford’s double gave United victory over their former manager.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secured an impressive home win (Martin Rickett/PA)
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side secured an impressive home win (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Jonathan Veal, PA

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed one of his side’s best performances of the season as Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford ended in defeat.

Mourinho was back on the touchline 352 days after his sacking, but suffered his first defeat in charge of Tottenham after Marcus Rashford’s brace.

Rashford scored in the sixth minute and then slotted home a second-half penalty to earn a 2-1 win and ease the pressure on Mourinho’s successor, who had overseen their worst start to a season since 1988.

Mourinho would have fancied a win after Dele Alli’s brilliant equaliser just before the break, but his side were second best.

“It was one of the best, we have had spells against Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester of course, but for 40 minutes we were excellent,” Solskjaer said of his side’s display.

“But the reaction after they scored was also good. It is always a concern because so many times this season we have been winning, gone into a draw and stayed in a draw, but they never gave in, trusted themselves and I think we deserved to win.”

It was Rashford who ensured he would be in the headlines with his match-winning display and Solskjaer was delighted to see him play with freedom.

He said: “The boy is 22 and today he played like he was in the garden or in the back yard or in the playground with his mates.

“He has just enjoyed himself. Sometimes there is expectation or pressure on him because we do expect a lot from him because he has shown it so many times.

“We want them to go out and enjoy themselves, with no fear of losing. United fans love to see wingers and forwards play with courage.

“You can define players by making things happen, movement, decision making, and he can go inside or out.

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Marcus Rashford struck from the spot to secure the points (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I’m very happy with how he’s matured. We want him to but it’s natural he can’t have this level as this was a top-class performance.”

Mourinho has spoken warmly about his time at Old Trafford in the build-up to the match, but he will have desperately wanted to win and become the first Spurs manager to win his first three top-flight league games in charge.

It was a flat performance, though, and he accepts his former side deserved to win.

“For 30 minutes they were not just better than us, they were much better than us,” Mourinho admitted.

“They were better in intensity, in aggression, they were winning first balls, second balls, 50-50 duels, but we were lucky.

“Then in the last 15 minutes of the first half we were us and United were in trouble. We scored a goal and I thought in the second half with some adjustments we did at half-time, I thought we were going to win it.

“You go from the 1-1 and you want to go there for the three points and you arrive in the second half and they play the game that they want to play.

“They dropped the block, they defend, they got fouls, a couple of dangerous counter-attacks, closing, closing, closing.

“Then we had the ball in the last third, the goal could happen, but didn’t. I think they deserved to win.”

PA

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